Saturday, 6 July 2013

Brief Notes on the Azelle Rodney Inquiry

Update 31st July 2014 - The former Police Officer, referred to as E7, has been charged with the murder of Azelle Rodney.  See the Crown Prosecution Service announcement on this.

In April 2005, Azelle Rodney (then aged 24) was shot by the Metropolitan Police - BBC 5th July 2013 and The Independent 5th July.  In June 2010, the Azelle Rodney Inquiry. was set up, under the Inquiries Act 2005.  The inquiry terms of reference were:  ‘To ascertain by inquiring how, where and in what circumstances Azelle Rodney came by his death on 30 April 2005 and then to make any such recommendations as may seem appropriate.’

Retired judge, Sir Christopher Holland was appointed Chairman of the Inquiry and details of the 'Inquiry Team' are available.   Up to December 2012, the total costs of the Inquiry have exceeded £2m with legal costs of £1,438,054.  The Inquiry is the first time that a fully Article 2 compliant public inquiry has been held. 

The Inquiry has concluded
(para 21.13 of the report) that firing so as to kill Azelle Rodney was 'disproportionate and therefore unreasonable and unlawful.'  This is the first time that an inquiry has found a breach of Article 2 by a Police Force in the planning and implementation of an operation which resulted in the death of a civilian.

The Inquiry findings do not establish either criminal or civil liability (Inquiries Act 2005 s.2).  

It is reported (Independent) that the Inquiry Report may be the subject of a judicial review.  There was an earlier judicial review of Sir Christopher's decision not to allow officers to give evidence from behind a screen: R (E) v Chairman of the Azelle Rodney Inquiry [2012] EWHC 563 (Admin) - Laws LJ and Simon J.

Closed sessions:

The Inquiry held a number of closed sessions - summarised HERE.

Inquest:

The North London Coroner opened an inquest in August 2007 but this was adjourned when the Coroner considered that he could not see relevant intelligence material and could not therefore comply with the State's duty under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Rodney family was told by the coroner that the full inquest could not be held because large portions of the police officers' statements had been crossed out, probably pursuant to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (see RIPA s17), which excludes information obtained by intercept from being used as evidence or even being seen by coroners.   (On this see Briefing by INQUEST).

Since the Counter Terrorism Act 2008 s74, intercept evidence may be heard by an inquiry set up under the Inquires Act 2005.   Disclosure will not be ordered by an inquiry unless the exceptional circumstances of the case make the disclosure essential to enable the inquiry to fulfil its terms of reference.

IPCC involvement:

In January 2006 the IPCC provided the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) with a file in relation to the investigation. The CPS subsequently decided there was insufficient evidence to mount a criminal prosecution - see IPCC Press Release.

The IPCC press release notes that - 'The Azelle Rodney Inquiry has had the benefit of a great deal of evidence that was not available to the IPCC or CPS, including lengthy cross-examination of E7, who had declined under caution to answer the IPCC’s questions, and further forensic and technical work we had been advised in 2005 was not possible.'  The IPCC has re-referred the case to the CPS to reconsider their decision as to whether any criminal prosecution should now follow.

Attorney-General's Undertaking:

April 2011 - the Attorney General gave an Undertaking as to the use of evidence given to the inquiry - HERE  - to the effect that no evidence given by a person to the inquiry would be used in any criminal proceedings.

Links:

Azelle Rodney Inquiry - Press Briefing June 2013

Briefing by INQUEST (August 2012)

Law and Lawyers 7th May 2013 looked at Article 2

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